Takashi Murakami Is a Streetwear King!

GARAGE Issue 16’s cover artist is obsessed with his newest purchase, “the Margiela sneakers that look messily glued together.”

by Emma Specter
Jan 31 2019, 8:03pm

What is it about streetwear and art that goes so well together? Supreme has featured the work of artists since its inception, assigning must-cop status to the work of everyone from Damien Hirst to Nan Goldin to Martha Cooper, and Sotheby’s recently made a mint auctioning off the only complete Supreme deck archive in private hands. It’s no surprise, then, that merch inspired by the work of Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, who spent 13 years collaborating with Louis Vuitton and released a line with Uniqlo last year, has Grailed aficionados frantically hitting “refresh.”

In addition to his work with Vuitton, Murakami has collaborated with Virgil Abloh to create pieces that merge Takashi’s signature Superflat artistic style with Abloh’s streetwear sensibility. “When I collaborated with Louis Vuitton I had this undigested idea about fashion. A moment came when I met Virgil Abloh where everything seemed to clear up and my understanding suddenly expanded,” Murakami told GARAGE, adding, “I’m starting to think that there may be a gap in the world of fashion for me to participate.”

As exciting as it is to imagine a solely Murakami-designed clothing line, his foray into the world of the wardrobe is hardly new territory; the artist was seen at Dior, Off-White and a host of other shows at Paris Men's Fashion Week. He also joined Pharrell and Virgil Abloh on the Complexcon host committee in 2018 and designing one of his classic brightly hued outfits—as well as a sneaker-themed art installation—for the streetwear festival.

Murakami is enmeshed in a high-flying friendship with Kim and Kanye, the First Couple of streetwear—the two chartered a private plane to tour Murakami’s Tokyo studio in November—and his merch has been flying off the shelves long since before his partnership with Vuitton ended. Bella Hadid and the Weeknd have also proven themselves to be fans of Murakami merch, with the musician outfitting himself in a Murakami-print pullover and procuring Murakami smiley-face pillows for his model girlfriend’s Christmas present.

To paraphrase artist Richard Hamilton, just what is it that makes Murakami’s work so different, so appealing to the streetwear-verse? Maybe it’s the artist’s delivery method; his work doesn’t debut, it “drops” in a manner that seems more designed to ensnare hypebeasts than art critics. More likely, it’s his wholehearted embrace of the music and fashion worlds; Murakami dressed up in a giant couch patterned with the signature print of his 2013 work “The Future will Be Full of Smile! For Sure!” to pay homage to Kanye and Lil Pump’s video for “I Love It.”

When asked about his style inspirations, Murakami extolled the virtues of his most recent purchase, “the Margiela sneakers that look messily glued together.” Clearly, this is an artist who understands the resale value of a designer sneaker.

Takashi Murakami
Virgil Abloh
Louis Vuitton
Kim Kardashian
kanye west